Do you see confidence as a skill?

You know, I never thought of confidence as a skill.  I always thought that confidence was the result of having achieved some milestone or other self-imposed standard.  And I’d guess that a lot of people had the same view that I had.  However, I stumbled upon this video over the weekend and I felt a real shift of perspective.

Watch world-famous business coach Dan Sullivan explain the concept of confidence as a skill and see if you don’t also experience a shift in perspective.

Speaking for myself, I am going to adopt Dan’s advice and move forward.  Should be a real adventure.
WC
 


 

 

 

 

 

How to Always be a Broke Writer

one centYep, that title is a shocker, ain’t it? But here’s the thing – in our industry we read a lot of articles.  We want to know how those who came before us succeeded.

Maybe we try to emulate somebody who has broken in, or get all hopped up on the latest internet marketing approach to promoting our awesome services.

But what you don’t often read about is how to fail.

Now, why would knowing how to fail help you?

Good question.  The short answer is so you know what not to do when you’re blazing the paths of freelance writer-dom.

And you might be surprised to see yourself on the following list:

  1. Don’t specialize, be a jack of all trades and master of none.  There are a lot of reasons this is a bad strategy. But the most compelling is that you’ll never be all things to all people.  By specializing you have a smaller focus but a much chance at real targeted marketing. Plus you end up really good at something.  Everybody loves that. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to turn down work that you can do and are happy to do. However, in terms of your business model and marketing, if you focus on your speciality and promote that you’re more likely to get the kind of clients you want doing the kind of work you are great at doing.
  2. Be reactive.  Like it or not, you have a business.  You may be the only employee and the only one producing your product or service but it’s still a business and should be run as one.  Hanging around and waiting for your existing clients to give you more work is reactive.  Be proactive, send out letters of introduction, list yourself in some directories, join the local Chamber of Commerce.  Chances are, right now only you and a handful of people know what you can do.  Don’t keep it a secret.
  3. Don’t choose a business model.  In other words just go at your writing career willy-nilly and hope for the best.  This will definitely keep you broke and require you pick up part-time jobs that don’t involve writing. A business model doesn’t have to be complex or fancy, it just has to be a specific approach that will advance your career.  For example: Figure out who you’re going to write for, what type of writing you’ll provide, what your fees are and the way you’re going to promote your services.  That of course is bare bones, but even bare bones is better than nothing.
  4. Promote haphazardly.  Now, I’m all for marketing and promoting and I’ve read, studied, listened to and used a bagillion different techniques for marketing. However, trying to run a website, a blog, Facebook page, twitter accounts, Google ads, banner ads, guest posting and free information products in order to saturate the market usually leads to you becoming a nervous wreck.  While there may be a day when you can master all of the above and still have time to actually write – but for now, pick one channel of promotion that you can handle and is effective and stick to that.  Your chances are much better for yielding a result.
  5. Don’t promote or market.  This should be a no-brainer but you’d be shocked by how many writers don’t promote or market.  They feel funny about singing their own praises or can’t be objective enough about their skills to even figure out what to say.  But if you can’t figure out how to promote your services how do you think you’ll be able to do it for a client? Suck it up, get rid of the false modesty and do a real assessment of your skills and promote the heck out of it.  If you need help, ask a client or business friend to help you figure it out.  Again, if you keep your skill and services a big secret you can definitely look forward to a job as a barista somewhere
  6. Work for clients who don’t value you.  This may be obvious and yet so many writers do this.  Part of the reason is that they don’t have enough confidence in their own skill or maybe they are just starting out and feel they have to pay their dues before they can get the choice assignments. But the problem with working with clients who don’t value you is that they make you feel bad about yourself and your work. And if you’re feeling bad all the time, you won’t have the energy or vibe to get better clients.
  7. Give up.  When you’re self employed and don’t get a regular paycheck it can make you grumpy.  Especially if things aren’t going great.  And I know writers who make an I-give-up declaration once a week.  No, they don’t mean it but does the universe know that?  Often we are the most likely to sabotage our own efforts.  Do what Napoleon Hill suggests – focus, be determined, believe in yourself.  Tell the universe you never give up because frankly you’re going to have to if you want to succeed at anything.  Nobody who has ever gotten anywhere has given up.  In fact, just the opposite, they refuse to give up.  Emulate those people.

Why should you listen to me?

Well, because I’ve made every one of these mistakes and more.That’s how I know it doesn’t work.  Experience, baby.  Not the easiest way to learn but effective.

So, did you see yourself in the list above? If so, what did you do to change things? Do you have any tips for success you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments below.

Writer Chick

Copyright 2013

Do You Have Writer’s Burn-out?

writers

 

If you’re like me, you both love and curse a huge influx of work. Being self-employed is an adventure and freelancers are always looking toward the next job, next new client or new lead. We freelancers work hard—often into the night, on weekends and in between meals and the other necessary parts of life.

 

My first year as a freelancer produced practically no income.  Requiring a lot of fancy dancing, using up savings, doing other freelance work and unfortunately relying on credit cards.  It’s hard to break in because there is so much to do and only you to do it.  You must market, sell and then do the work.  Then you must collect for the work you have done— and sometimes the checks arrive late and sometimes the checks don’t arrive at all.

In my second year as a freelancer, I hit the mother lode.  Out of the blue a friend and fellow freelancer contacted me and asked if I could help her with an ongoing contract she has with a legal service.  At about the same time, another colleague contacted me to write for a start-up web design company. Overnight, I had more work than I could handle.  It was exciting and scary.  Exciting because of the potential of regular, good-paying work.  Scary because I had to learn a lot in a short space of time, meet deadlines and write in several fields I wasn’t personally knowledgeable about.  Necessity is the mother of invention and I managed to ride the learning curve, meet the deadlines and get the work done.  And I became pretty good at it. But…

 What day is it?

The fast and constant workflow was never-ending.  I certainly didn’t want to turn the faucet off, because I wanted the work.  But I also realized that I needed to do laundry, buy groceries and occasionally take my dog for a walk.  As my dirty house, unwashed dishes and uncaptured dust bunnies crowded around me, I couldn’t remember the last time I had a day off. While adrenaline and the profound desire to succeed drove me and enabled me to get the work done and to a high standard, I knew I couldn’t go on in this mode forever.  So, I had to figure out how to maintain the workflow but prevent the certain fate of burnout.

The small things make a difference

While I couldn’t just walk away and take a break, I did find small ways to give myself a break without stopping the flow.  Most of them quite simple, but ever so helpful:

I started to schedule my day, not just the work but personal things like laundry and grocery shopping.

  • I made an arbitrary decision that my computer was turned off at 8 p.m. no matter what.  It’s good for human eyes to look at something other than a computer screen.
  • I made a point of calling a friend every other day.  Not for any particular reason other than speaking to another human being.  Freelancing, especially freelance writing is very solitary and it’s easy to lose touch with the outside world.
  • When I needed break but didn’t want to stop the writing flow I switched to a creative piece—a story, a poem, a limerick.  When you’re burning your brain exclusively with non-fiction writing you can lose something. Switching to the right brain side of things actually helped me when I later returned to freelance work.
  • Laughing is also good for those of burned out brain. Mindless comedies, stupid jokes, funny pictures of cats, whatever tickles your funny bone can help pop you out of your head for a while.
  • Sleeping a few extra hours didn’t hurt either.

Keep yourself in fighting shape

We freelancers get used to doing it all ourselves, sitting in front of computers for 16 hours at a stretch and just muscling through all that needs to get done. But honestly, that type of strategy can lead to total burn-out and even more serious problems so don’t forget to:

  • Exercise and eat right
  • Drink lots of water
  • Organize during down times
  • Develop files that help you become more efficient
  • Make time for family and friends

After all, the reason we are in this freelancer life is so we can do what we want right?

How about you?  What do you do for writer’s burn out?  Let me know in the comments below.

 

Writer Chick

Copyright 2013

 

What I Love About Freelancing

I was born an independent person – long before it was fashionable or indeed admirable. In fact, much to my mother’s consternation, I was a willful child. Though in my mind I didn’t think of myself as willful, I just knew what I wanted. Maybe this is the characteristic that has always made me a lousy employee but a great freelancer. Could be. While freelancing is not for everyone it can be a great fit for independent and adventurous souls.

1. No high heels. Indeed, there is no uniform for the self employed (unless you happen to be meeting a client) – you can work in your jammies all day and no one is the wiser. And you can save the high heels for clubbing or special dates.
2. No time clock. As a freelancer you make and determine your own hours. While typically freelancers work more than 40 hours a week, those hours are determined by work-flow, client needs and your own schedule. Yes, I’ve been known to go weeks without a day off, however, the choice was mine to make.
3. I determine my own fate. This concept may be scary to those who feel the need for security and predictability. Make no mistake, freelancing is risky and especially when you are first starting out can make you feel pretty nervous. It’s your show and if you don’t make things happen they don’t. On the other hand, you can shape your business to suit your needs, offer the products and services you want and serve the clients you desire. If you succeed, you also have the satisfaction of having created your own business.
4. I am my own boss. One of the things I have always found difficult as an employee is taking orders. I tend to be autonomous and rarely require heavy supervision. However in most employee/employer situations your boss feels the need to supervise. In many cases this works just fine, in some it can be counter productive because the supervision interferes with getting things done. As a freelancer, I am my own boss and can take the direction I feel is best in my work goals. Consequently, I have no one to blame if things go wrong, but myself.
5. I can take chances. In a typical job, there are a prescribed set of rules and boundaries on where and how you can take action. As a freelancer I have the freedom to take a chance on a new client, a different approach and creative problem solving. It may work or it may fail miserably but sometimes the experience of failing when you take a chance can lead to options and solutions you might never have developed in a conventional job.
6. I can be myself. Conventional jobs often require a certain persona as part of the job description, which may be strictly speaking not you. Depending on the industry you work in, you may be required to be very conservative or serious to impart the right image. Creative people in particular find this difficult and challenging and even depressing. As a freelancer you can be yourself, deliver your product or service in the manner that best suits you and not feel the need for a double martini lunch.
7. It’s stimulating. Being a freelancer is not something you can phone in. Unlike a conventional job where once you have the routine down you can more or less phone in your performance, as a freelancer you have to stay alert and be able to think on your feet. Which can sometimes be scary because let’s face it, you have nothing and no one to fall back on. On the other hand, you tend to feel a lot more alive, even when you are worried that you may not make the rent next month.
8. It’s all mine. There is something exceedingly gratifying in having your own business no matter how large or small. Whatever I have to show for my efforts belong to me. I can look at all I have and know that I have it because of my efforts, my creativity and drive. And there is an indescribable sense of pride I feel in that.

While freelancing may not be for everyone – it is for me. How about you? Do you dream of being your own boss? Creating your own destiny?

WC

Copyright 2011